Both San Francisco and New York state declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday, as they struggle to gain access to more resources to help contain the spread of the virus. About 40 percent of the 4,907 monkeypox cases recorded in the United States have been diagnosed in California and New York.
“This declaration means that local health departments engaged in response and prevention activities will be able to access additional state reimbursement, after other federal and state funding sources are maximized, to protect all New Yorkers and ultimately limit the spread of monkeypox in our communities,” said State Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett in a news release.
In a separate statement, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the declaration would mobilize resources and accelerate emergency planning. “We need to be prepared and this declaration will allow us to serve the city better,” San Francisco Director of Health Grant Colfax, M.D., said in the statement. “Our COVID-19 response has taught us that it is imperative that we mobilize city resources. The declaration helps us ensure we have all the tools available to augment our outreach, testing and treatment, especially to the LGBTQ+ who remain at highest risk for monkeypox.”
California State Sen. Scott Wiener cited several benefits to declaring the emergency, including expanded testing and vaccines, as well as applying pressure to the federal government to take the outbreak more seriously, The Washington Post reported.
Though the World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a public health emergency, the United States is still weighing whether to declare monkeypox a national public health emergency. However, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra noted Thursday that the Biden administration is sending vaccines and treatments to local health departments and added that monkeypox had not reached the threat level of COVID-19 at this point.
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